On average, you can find me on Santa Barbara’s trails 5 times a week. I have hiked, biked, barefooted, jumping stilted, run , unicycled and of course, yarnbombed them. They offer a wide array of styles and difficulty, including some fantastic spots for bouldering and rock climbing. Best of all, the trailheads are literally in our backyards, making it easy for anyone to get out there. Suffice it to say, I love being out and about in our mountains.
While being on our trails offers the opportunity for solitude, occasionally you’ll pass another hiker or two, and odds are, they will be respectful and polite. That’s why I often say, “The further you get from civilization, the more civil people become.”
However, there are two times a year when things change. Moments when our neighbors who reside roughly 99 miles to the South invade en masse. The week on either side of New Years Day and when the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is in full swing. How can I tell when the Angeleño have arrived? Here is a list of my top 10 ways to spot people from Los Angeles on the trails of Santa Barbara.
1 Black Clothing
The dead giveaway is black jeans, but they can also be black leggings with matching black lycra jacket. Must be matching.
2 Trucker Hats
I imagine it’s because they want to fit in among their redneck brethren, you know, the ones who chose to live way out here in the sticks.
3 Fancy Sunglasses
Typically, they are large frame aviators with gold rims.
4 Starbucks Coffee
They must think we have trash cans in the wilderness, but we don’t. Which leads to #5.
5 Coffee Cups Neatly Placed
Since we don’t have trash cans on the trails, they have to either carry that cup the entire way, including when it becomes more fatiguing than they had anticipated or place it on a boulder with the intention of picking it up on the way down. Unfortunately, so many cups wind up being neatly placed, it becomes impossible to discern one from another. Rather than risk picking up the germs of another Starbuck-drinking hiker, they leave it, figuring the caretaker will pick it up eventually.
6 Off-Road Ready Luxury Vehicles
You know they are thinking, “We’re going out into the wilderness. It’s a good thing we got the rack mounted fog lights for the Defender.” Like I said though, our trailheads are in residential neighborhoods. You could skateboard to them. But if you’ve got it, use it, right? So they use that off-road, four-wheel drive Cayenne to park on the curb. Why? Well, the trails are so busy this time off year, they’d have to park up to 10 car lengths away. Granted, they have driven to a location from which they will be walking for at least an hour, but why add another 30 seconds if you don’t have to?
7 They Travel in Packs
Rarely, will you see an Angeleño hiking alone, or even in pairs. Instead, they are more often sighted in groups of 6 or more, with the ladies in one group and the men in another.
8 Men Lagging Behind
This isn’t the stereotypical manly group, beating their chests along the way. The men in these packs typically dress the same, go at the same pace and talk about the same subjects as the ladies ahead of them.You won’t hear them discussing the fauna or even noticing the beautiful views, but you will hear discussions about nannies, neighbors, celebrities and new acquisitions. (If they’ve brought kids, they will be well ahead.)
9 Beautifully Coifed
This goes for both the men and the women. It’s not red-carpet type coifing, though. It is the perfectly styled, hair up, hat pinned, makeup understated, yet glamorous look you would expect of a socialite.
10 Instant Experts
If, on your way up, you pass someone on their way down who offers unsolicited advice or warnings about the trail ahead, chances are they are Angeleño.
I have provided this list, not as a criticism or to make our Southern neighbors feel unwelcome, but rather as a simple observation. They are a fascinating species.